A Seventh potentially neo-monastic pattern worth mentioning. I name it tentatively because it’s a pattern in its early days. It is a global move to creating environments of constant prayer – eg “Boiler Rooms” (to use Spurgeon’s name for it) and the 24/7 movement.
It gets my attention because there was a wave of new monastic communities post WWI and into the 1930s which flowed from a desperate hunger for prayer and intercession in an era of failing churches. This hunger was found most acutely among the Anglo-Catholic clergy of the day. And it led a number to form new houses for prayer – some of which evolved into new monastic communities. It is possible that we may be seeing the beginnings of something similar today.
The Six Patterns outlined in the previous posts flow from a hunger for…
• Closer community
• Deeper levels of discipleship
• Greater conversion of life
• Greater missional impact
• More meaningful ways of belonging to one another and journeying together
These movements may be a hunger for new ways. But they do not have to mean a movement away from inherited structures. Indeed Australian Anglican missiologist Peter Corney talks about the potential for making our churches look more like this;
i.e. a pattern with a whole range of ways of belonging.
Peter Corney writes about the potential for creating high commitment, close community structures, as an optional way of belonging within the world of our congregations. There could be some real mileage in that – be that at the local level or on another level… district …regional? Some of the more disparate structures I have mentioned in these posts – associate structures and chapters – can provide ways of journeying together which are very relevant to places where the population density is lower.
I will leave you with a question I offered to an interstate gathering of senior Anglican colleagues when I presented the content of these posts in Canberra, Australia a couple of years ago. I offered it with respect because there are those whose entire work is taken up with answering this question in practice from week to week:
“If the energy for such expressions is grassroots, (ie if people are discovering these ways for themselves rather than because their institution has set something up for them) and we therefore find ourselves entering, post start-up into these kinds of stories; how might we as pastors, bishops, regional superintendents, home missions directors, build relationships that embrace, add value that is welcomed and serve the new things that God is doing among us today?”